The debate about getting youngsters into engineering will run and run but until there are some fundamental changes in terms of decent salaries and how engineers are treated, I fear the battle will be a losing one.

My 12-year-old boy wants to follow my wife into finance: here's why. I'm out of the house for 7am for an 8am start and I work the best part of 40 hours a week, often more. I drive a five-year-old Peugeot.

If I go away on business, I'm booked into some generic motel somewhere (and I have to take a pool car) with a small allowance for food and drink. If I go abroad, I'm booked on to bargain flights and sometimes we are told to drive well over 240km to another airport because the cheapest flight is from there.

My holidays are fixed, which means it costs a fortune to go away and my potential to earn a bonus is based on company performance not individual effort. However, I do love my job.

My wife works for a large bank but is based from home, so early starts are few and far between. She drives a top-of-the-range company car. If she goes to London, she flies there and stays in plush hotels. She has not had to do seven years of college and university. In fact, apart from the qualifications she does through work she barely has five GCSEs to her name.

She gets to go to lavish balls and events, takes her holidays when she wants and her bonuses (she gets two a year) are usually more than my year's salary.

So when people ask my eldest boy what he wants to do when he leaves school I'm not surprised he says 'I want to do what Mum does'.

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